ATP Blog #15 New Birth
Having just recently gone through the process of watching my wife give birth, the concept of birth is fresh in my mind. Today’s passage introduces a new concept, portraying Jesus as a teacher, and even a ‘pediatrician.’ John begins, introducing us to an interesting character, saying, “There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God: for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.’” The fact that Nic was a Pharisee explains why he came at night; the religious leaders of the Jews had already rejected Jesus as the Messiah. Yet, his first statement reveals a lot about where his heart is at.
Searching By calling Jesus Rabbi, Nic was acknowledging that Jesus was a trustworthy teacher of God’s Word. The evidence he gave for this claim was that the ‘signs’ or miracles Jesus was doing, could only be done by someone who was empowered by God. On a side note, I find it interesting that people acknowledged Jesus by the signs He did, but not by the prophesies He fulfilled! It would seem that people in those days picked and chose which scriptures they wanted to believe, just like today! Nic came, willing to hear what Jesus had to say. Jesus responded to his statement by saying, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
Understanding Jesus heard more than what Nic said. Due to His reliance on the Holy Spirit, as evidenced throughout His ministry on Earth, Jesus was able to see what Nic really needed to hear, which is what we need to hear. Those who sought after God and His Kingdom require a rebirth! The people of Israel knew about sacrifices, obedience, and worship, but had never heard about the concept of a rebirth. Therefore, Nic needed clarification. “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb?” Jesus clarified by saying, “I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
Spiritual or Physical Water birth signifies being born physically, which results in living physically. Spiritual birth signifies being born into the Kingdom of God. So, what does this really mean and look like? For both physical and spiritual birth, have you noticed that the one being born does very little of the work? The only thing you can do, is to choose to accept it. Secondly, both events are life changing. Physical birth allows for physical growth, and completely changes the environment. Spiritual birth allows for spiritual growth, and also changes the environment by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Just as physical birth initiates constant change in the physical body, so spiritual birth initiates constant change in the spirit of a person, called sanctification. Jesus further explains, “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Wind of Change I love Jesus’ analogy comparing the Spirit of God and the spirit of man to the wind. You cannot see it, but you can
see what it does. The Wind of the Spirit brings about dramatic change to those who have chosen to be born of the Spirit. You cannot see where it is, or where it is going, yet the Spirit of God brings about the changes necessary to achieve the goal of being a part of God’s Kingdom. Contrary to popular opinion that entering God’s Kingdom (Heaven) happens when we die, Jesus is saying that this rebirth initiates that citizenship immediately! If you have been reborn, then God’s Spirit lives in you, and you are a part of the Kingdom of God. So, examine your heart: have you been truly born again? Where is the evidence?